Melisandre’s reappearance just moments before the Battle of Winterfell may have been the best chance at survival the living ever got. And in the third episode, we finally got to see the extent of the Red Priestess's powers as she attempted to fulfill her purpose of saving the living from the dead. The last shot reminds us just how far she’s come.
[Ed. note: this post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3]
In the first moments she arrives Melisandre immediately makes clear just how useful she’ll be when she talks to Jorah and lights the swords of Daenerys’ Dothraki warriors on fire, giving them their first fighting chance against the army of the dead.
As poorly as their meeting went last time she was in the North, when she was banished after executing Shireen, no one seems angry to see her when she shows up moments before the battle. The only exception to that is Ser Davos, but she seems to have been planning for that.
“There’s no need to execute me, Ser Davos. I’ll be dead before the dawn,” she says before disappearing into Winterfell.
We get another glimpse of Melisandre’s power as the dead begin to close in on Winterfell. When the storm becomes too thick for Dany to ignite the trenches around Winterfell, Melisandre steps in. In a moment that she has had so often, she lays her hands down confidently on the wooden trenches placed around Winterfell and starts to utter her spell. At first the fire doesn’t come. And we see her doubt, but she keeps speaking anyway. Then, at the last moment, the trenches light and buy the living a few precious moments to defend the castle. At least, until the Night King remembers that he has enough dead soldiers in his army to extinguish the flames with their bodies.
The next time Melisandre appears is when Beric dies. We don’t get her powers of fire so much as fires of prediction. She informs Arya that Beric had a purpose — he was always destined to save her. This may not seem like much, but we find out later in the episode that it was the most important sacrifice anyone could have made. Only through Beric’s heroism, and the final purpose of his many lives, could the Night King have been defeated at the hands of Arya Stark, who Melisandre also predicted would have an important role to play in this final conflict against the dead.
In her final moments of the series, Melisandre walks out of Winterfell and into the rising sun. She drops her amulet and slowly turns back into her aged self, recalling a major reveal from season 6. Falling into the snow, she knows that her ultimate purpose was fulfilled, and she can move on to join the Lord of Light in the great beyond.
Many of the decisions and movements of Melisandre may forever remain a mystery to viewers. But in her final and most important moments, she reminded us who she was. A fighter on the side of the living. A powerful magician, a prophet of some of Westeros’ most important moments, and ultimately a woman whose faith may have wavered but was never truly extinguished.